When was the Bhagavad Gita written?

Before the war, during the war or after the war? Are there other possibilities?

Surely that sounds like a trick question, right? Everyone knows that Arjuna was unable to fight, even start, the battle. Hence Krishna had to give him the Gita (lecture) to motivate him to fight.

So the answer is that Bhagavad Gita was written before the War. Right? Well, that’s one way to answer.

Let’s take a different perspective. The story goes that Sage Vyasa (who is the author of Mahabharata and hence Bhagavad Gita, in a way … okay, this itself is another trick question but that’s for another day since the author of BG has six+ possible answers). Okay, where were we? Sage Vyasa is also the grandfather of the whole Pandava Kaurava clan. Anyways, Sage Vyasa was ready to grant King Dritharasthra a magic vision so he can see the war. King D refused politely saying, “Hey, I wasn’t able to see a single good thing thus far .. so why start now to see this?”. Hence Sage Vyasa gave the power to Sanjaya (who would be able to view and hear any scene in the War at any time from any and anyone’s perspective). So Sanjaya is not unlike the modern day day-trader with sixteen screens fishing out for signals to pull a fast one.

Anyways, King D actually could resist temptation and did not want to learn anything. But on the 10th day of the War, the Commander-in-chief, Grandsire Bhishma was slain and this news caused panic everywhere. Now King D couldn’t resist anymore and asks Sanjaya to narrate everything from the beginning.

So now we can say that Bhagavad Gita was written in the middle or during the War.

Now, the third perspective is that some sort of conversation may have actually happened before the war (or during the war). But it was Vyasa’s imagination and literary right to embellish and present it as the Gita. In this case, one could say that the Bhagavad Gita was written after the War.

There is of course a possibility that the whole thing is fiction and the entire thing is made up. Heck, there is no Krishna nor is there a Narayana. By the way, this does not in any way diminish an iota of the joys and lessons we can learn from the Gita nor the practical applicability to one’s life (and I can’t wait to write about it all).

There are also theories that the entire Bhagavad Gita is too coherent, too wonderful, too amazing a text to exactly fit in the exact right spot. So it must’ve been inserted much much later by some folks who would have an incentive to make it appear in the Mahabharata and make it the words of Lord Krishna.

So there you go, the five possibilities for a when.